Seven Punjabi youth, stranded in Iraq, return to India

Chandigarh: Seven Punjabi youth, who were stranded in Iraq for eight months after cheated by travel agents, returned to India with the Shiromani Akali Dal’s intervention, SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal said here on Saturday.

Urging the Punjab government to take action against the travel agents indulging in malpractices, he said steps should be taken to repatriate all Punjabi women sold in Iraq and other places after being sent there on the pretext of jobs.

Talking to reporters, the SAD President, who was accompanying Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, thanked the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for asking the Erbil Consul General to intervene and repatriate the seven men.

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He also thanked SAD volunteers who paid for their homeward tickets.

Badal said they had been promised $700-$800 a month along with food and lodging facilities. However, on reaching Iraq they found that their agent had not taken the required permissions and they had no work contract.

He said due to this, the youth were subjected to a daily fine, which accumulated to $14,000 in eight months.

The SAD president said on the MEA’s intervention after Harsimrat Badal approached S. Jaishankar, the Erbil Consul General got the issue resolved by prevailing upon the sponsor to pay the fine.

Harsimrat Badal said the seven youth were taken there, their passports were taken away, they were not given work permits and were also asked to cough up more money.

In another development, Ram Singh of Sanour village in Patiala returned to India following Harsimrat Badal’s intervention. Ram Singh had gone to Dubai in 2015 but was left high and dry by his employers who closed shop and fled after being caught duping banks.

He had to spend 20 months in a Dubai jail after which he went to Iran.

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